Estimated read time: 3 minutes
This comes up every so often and has for years when I talk about websites. People want:
- Gallery sections
- Video sections
- 500 other things that they think are necessary on websites but usually aren’t
“But my competitors have that so I need it.”
Side story: The problem with statements like these is that without looking at the competitor numbers we have no idea if it’s even working for them. They may be updating it right now even!
I once had somebody sent me an unsolicited website audit and they said I was doing one thing or another wrong. But my key performance indicators were rocking it – which they didn’t know obviously. So as long as goals are being reached who cares about those perception-based metrics.
But are these content-asset pages/sections even working and necessary?
I thought of this when I was watching the Royal Wedding of 2018. Yes, I got up early to watch parts of it – even the Royal Family YouTube channel was live streaming (2018 FTW) and followed along on Twitter.
I liked how the New York Times:
Had topical stories with video tidbits embedded.
It made scrolling on all devices easy and adjusts images for all the different screen sizes. Here’s an example from interiors+sources on how pictures are used within context.
Tying content to topics versus asset type is the way to go based on all the metrics I’ve ever seen. Even sites with huge traffic, asset-based pages perform often the worst. No reason to focus on user-experience that users don’t even experience!
“I’m busy looking through some unrelated videos,” – no one.
Running a quick Google Trends report also shows the massive search volume for “Royal wedding” over “royal wedding photos” or “royal wedding gallery.”
Content-asset based sections seem to be a holdover from early web design days when we had less data and knowledge of how people use websites. And they are an easy way to stop political office babble:
“Where will I – the boss – find the videos we are doing?”
“We can add a video section just for you – the audience of 1.”
Keep in mind that the boss viewing anything on an external website will not make money, bring leads or be helpful in any other way than that we put the end to that discussion.
Sometimes I wonder if content sections came out of this model partially:
- A city sees four robberies
- They are all unrelated
- Newspaper writes one article that basically says: “These robberies are only related because we put them in one article.”
It’s an organizational problem that’s internal. Just do four briefs or put them on a crime map.
What’s the solution then?
The solution is to use content assets as different pieces of the puzzle and then present that together at some point. Example:Let’s say I’m doing a story on content distribution, my story can include:
- Tweetable quotes
And I just remembered that some sites used to have sections for links – so another ugh. Website visitors today often enter through Google search so the strategy to have focused content with different content assets should help get them to you when they are looking for the content and answers you can provide. And for the dwindling number of social media referrals? They’ll have more things to do when they arrive, too.